BROOKLINE, UNITED STATES (AFP) – A showdown of golf’s top stars was set on Friday at the US Open as two-time major winner Collin Morikawa seized a share of the lead while Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy were one stroke adrift.
Seventh-ranked Morikawa fired a four-under par 66 and American Joel Dahmen, who shot 68, joined him on five-under 135 after 36 holes at The Country Club.
Second-ranked defending champion Rahm, third-ranked McIlroy and Americans Hayden Buckley, Aaron Wise and Beau Hossler shared third on 136.
“No one has taken it deep so far and run away,” Morikawa said. “But you know what, right now my game feels really good.
“The last few days is a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can make some separation somehow.”
Morikawa won last year’s British Open and the 2020 PGA Championship and the 25-year-old American could find himself 75 per cent of the way to a career Grand Slam by tonight.
“I can’t really talk about what it would be like to win this one. I’ve got to focus on tomorrow,” Morikawa said. “I’ve got to make sure I don’t run out of steam… I’ve just got to figure out a way to focus a little bit deeper and really get dialed in for the next 36.”
Starting on the 10th tee, Morikawa made birdie putts of 10 feet at the 12th hole, 13 feet at the par-5 14th, 14 feet at the 17th and 33 feet at the first.
After his lone bogey at the fourth, Morikawa dropped his second shot at the par-4 eighth four feet from the cup but missed his eagle putt and settled for birdie.
“I knew the tempo was a little off,” Morikawa said. “It just happened to be a bad stroke.”
McIlroy, who endured a double-bogey disaster at the third hole, sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the 12th, drove the green in two to set up a tap-in birdie at the par-5 14th and sank a 12-foot birdie putt at 17.